Do not “Kiss to Drink”!

Just travelling by trains is an adventure in India. For a short span of time you are thrown along with people whom you would never meet in your normal environment and are subject to opinions and interests which are alien to your own friends circle.

This one time while we were on our way back from a brief holiday at home, we shared our 3rd AC compartment with a French couple. Another travelling companion an enthusiastic young Indian seated next to them began to converse with them regarding their tour of India and international politics.

In the middle of the conversation, the indian took a swing from his 1 Litre water bottle. To us indians the usual mode of drinking from the bottle – pouring the water from the bottle into the mouth, without putting ones lips to the rim of the bottle – was standard practice and didn’t raise any eyebrows. However the foreigners picked up on it and questioned the youth “Why do you drink in that manner, without touching the bottle to your mouth?”

The youth replied “I would need to share the water with others and drinking straight from the bottle would not allow me to share it.” The French couple was really stunned – they said such a thought never occurs to them. They always get their individual bottles!

Some time ago Bisleri launched “kiss and drink” bottles. 500ml bottles, with a “kiss” cap to drink straight from the bottle.

The idea behind the Bisleri teams campaign was, “We have taken cue from a basic consumer behaviour that we do not like to share water with someone who has touched the bottle to his/her mouth. The campaign takes into consideration this behaviour and asks the consumer to buy their own bottle and drink straight from the bottle (kiss)”.

They expected to drive a social change by getting the consumers to buy their own bottle to be able to “kiss and drink”. On the flip side they expected the consumers to not share their bottle of water. While they are correct in the assumption that we do not like to share bottles which have been drunk from straight, in a country that buys everything family size, and sharing is the first value any child learns, I wonder if they were way off the mark in their consumer analysis.

Considering that the “kiss” bottles are no longer available in stores, and the marketing campaign has died out I think it would be an accurate conclusion to arrive at.


“What do you have?”

My first time in Gujarat ! Official travel of course. I reach Ahmedabad and the sales team has a hectic three day client tour planned.

The tour starts off with pouring rain and consequent delayed bus travel to Rajkot. Second day pretty much goes the same way with a delayed train journey to Surat, and 8 inches of rain in Ahmedabad. Third day provides a diversion by way of a bus ramming into our vehicle on the way to Mehasa. Barring all travel problems the trip is a success; and despite the the airport drop cab arriving at the nick of time (causing considerable increase in blood pressure), due to the drop timing coinciding with the Ramzan namaz (Id prayers), I am able to board my flight home.

I ask for the emergency exit row and armed with my neck pillow and leopard print scarf am happily looking forward to a hour long sleep. The trick of sleeping on flights I have learnt is to doze off while take off. The dimmed lights and lack of announcements provide the best ambience to doze off, and once you’er in the dream zone its its easy to ignore the clatter during the flight.

Flight Companions

Flight Companions

I am all settled with the pillow and the scarf over my eyes and am just into a light snooze when the announcement starts-
“We will now begin our inflight service. We wish to provide you expedient service and in order to help us with the same we request you to kindly go through the menu and select the items you wish to order and keep the required change ready.”

I manage somewhat successfully to ignore the bi-lingual announcements and am back into my semi comatose state when the flight attendant’s voice booms over my head –
“What do you wish to order sir?” To the passenger seated next to me.
Passenger 1: “What do you have?”
Attendant: “The menu is in the seat pocket sir.”
Passenger 1: “Do you have the hot items? Dal chawal?
Attendant: “Yes sir”.
I hear some rustling which I construe as her preparing to heat up the meal.

Attendant to the passenger behind me: “What would you like to have sir?”
Passenger 2: “Do you have the hot meals?”
Attendant (With just an octave higher note): Yes sir what would you like to have?”
Passenger 2: “Do you have dal chawal?”
Sounds indicate her giving the meal to the passenger seated next to me.
Attendant: “Please open it only after 10 minutes.”
Gives packet to the passenger seated behind me: “Please open only after 10 mins.”
Attendant: “Do you have change sir?”
Passenger 2: “No”

By this time my semi-comatose state was fully and truly overridden by irritation and I wondered at the patience of the air hostesses who had to deal with this day in and day out.
What I had now was crystal clear knowledge that sleep was not a luxury I was going to have on that flight and all I could think was “Thank God it’s Friday”.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Letters

During our recent trip to Thailand we came across this shop called “Sistema”. They wish to preserve the culture of Thailand by creating silver jewellery and show-pieces, reflecting Thai tradition.

I was fascinated by this necklace with Thai numerals in silver…..

Thai Numerals in Silver

Thai Numerals in Silver

The card at the back read ….

Description of the Necklace

Description of the Necklace

A little research made their meaning clearer – Thai letter 9 is pronounced as “gao” which sounds similar to “Kow-nah” meaning progress or moving forward.

Considering that most numbers are considered lucky in one culture or the other … wearing the whole lot makes one super lucky?! I would like to believe so 😉


System? Process? Whazzat?

“A System comprises of Machine, Process and People.” Mr. R

Recently we visited a famed bakery to buy some snacks. It was one of the larger outlets of the bakery and since we went there after office, we had our bags with us. We got stopped at the entrance for a security check and had to deposit our bags at the baggage counter.

The bakery had a very different style of billing. Unlike other bakeries where the food counter first gives the customer the bill for their items, and the customer is able to collect the items once the bill is paid at the cash counter; here the food counter would pack the food items, stick barcode labels on the parcels, and the customer could directly take the items to the cash counter, get it billed and walk out. They had given so much thought to their process, that they had even priced all the products in multiples of 5 and kept chocolates worth Rs 5 at the cash counter to be returned to any customer who didn’t have the requisite change.

We got our items packed and went to the cash counter for billing. There were two people at the billing counter – one was scanning the bar code and the other was packing the individual parcels into a bag. The packing person was in such a hurry that he picked up one parcel and put it into the bag even before the bar code was scanned. Neither the scanning person nor the packing person bother to notice that there were 3 parcels which were packed whereas the bill was only for 2 items. Our bill was reduced by half since they missed to bill the most expensive item of the lot.

Overall for the bakery the value of that item may have been nominal, but my point is that a system, an organisation is all about people people people. One may have the best machinery, the best processes – but in the end of the day its people who are going to run it. One may not have the best processes or machinery but may have an efficient system because the people running the system know what are the critical aspects and focus on it. How effectively the system or the organisation runs therefore comes down to intangible terms like “culture” or the indefinable “Toyota Way.” Its all about how you handle your people.

Cassette Classics

High school …… the onslaught of new subjects, the adrenaline rush, the first shy entrance to a world of romance, and a tough social environment for me, due to the traditional but indulgent upbringing that i had had. I was mostly part of the crowd watching-in while there were wildfire rumours of various link ups spreading through the school.

And as a part of the anonymous crowd, listening to the handsome dude of the most ‘in news’ couple, on stage, making a song dedication for his pretty girlfriend was when I first heard the song –


Having been brought up only on a diet of old Hindi melodies, I found the song, and the on stage live dedication (with guitar and everything) the most romantic combination. As soon as I was able (at a different time and a different place) I memorised the lyrics of the song. The lyrics were also the ones that my hubby used to express that he wished to be more than just friends. And so it remains to this day the first song that comes to my mind when I think of dedications.

P.S. This nostalgia was brought on by having heard the song at “Cassette Classics” – a part of the Radio Mirchi genres on They claim that everybody has some specific memories linked to when songs were played on cassettes, which they aim to revive – and didn’t they just!


Alarm rings. Drag self out of bed. Get dressed. Say goodbye to hubby. Rush to catch bus to office – an hour and half of strategising to get a seat and sleep. Finish routine office work and cribbing. Rush to leave office before peak traffic time. At home. Too tired to cook. Hubby returns frustrated from office. Order dinner.

Hubby gets job in new city. Unable to get transfer to new city. Quit job. Spend a month successfully setting up house. Start applying for jobs. Recessionary and political situations reduce probability of new openings. Convoluted work experience add to woes. Have a baby? Buy a vehicle? Buy a house? Need financial backing of a job to plan. Bored with household chores. Gain weight. Hate gym. Wallow in self pity. Life – Paused!

Call N. Recall her wedding – One that took place amidst protests from family. N has now taken transfer to the capital where her hubby is. N’s hubby is posted on-site for a year. Stuck alone in a new city – search for house, adjust to new traffic timings, adjust to new people in office, catch a few minutes with hubby on different standard time.

Joined swimming. The pool deserted in the morning. Enjoy frolicking in the water.

Call S. Listen to her description of work-life balance. Work timings ensure she’s at home only when her baby is asleep.

New member at the swimming pool. Has come on wheel chair accompanied by parents. Is helped by parents into the pool to exercise her wasted legs.

Suddenly feel very very privileged.